ECONOMY

In Brief

Bulgarian truckers hit hard by farm blocks Bulgarian trucking companies suffered losses of as much as 10 million euros ($13 million) in a week since Greek farmers blocked all border crossings between the two European Union states, industry representatives said. Hundreds of trucks carrying goods to destinations ranging from Poland to Italy and Spain, are stranded on both sides of the two border checkpoints, forming 10-kilometer queues, Todor Georgiev, head of regional border police in southern Bulgaria, said yesterday in an interview with Bulgarian state radio Horizont. «All these trucks failed to meet their delivery deadlines, contracts have been broken and they are facing heavy lawsuits,» Mirolyub Stolarski, president of the Bulgarian Road Transport Association, said in an interview also with Radio Horizont. «Total losses so far exceed 10 million euros. Some shipments containing foods were spoiled. The situation is grave. Conditions for the drivers are terrible, they have lived in their trucks for a week now.» (Bloomberg) Mytilineos halts Romanian production Mytilineos Holdings SA, a Greek metals, energy and defense company, said it will temporarily halt production at a Romanian zinc and lead mine to reduce operating losses. The shutdown takes effect immediately, the Athens-based company said today in a stock exchange filing. Mytilineos also said it will «drastically» reduce unnecessary workers at the Sometra SA mine in Copsa Mica, Romania. Record low zinc prices contributed to the decision, the company said. (Bloomberg) Bank deal Turkey’s Finansbank, a unit of Greece’s largest lender National Bank (NBG), said yesterday it had decided to sell its Malta subsidiary to another unit of NBG for 185 million euros ($240 million). NBG operates in Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Egypt. Finansbank was hit by the economic slowdown in the fourth quarter last year. Loan growth slowed to 3 percent from the previous three-month period. At the end of last year Finansbank said it had secured a $470 million syndicated loan from international markets. (Reuters) Turnaround in 2010 The US economy, in its worst recession in decades, will probably begin turning around by early 2010 but economic growth will be below par, the New York Stock Exchange’s chief economist said yesterday. «I expect to see this recession last to the end of this year at least, and then be followed by a slow recovery,» William Freund, chief economist at NYSE, told an economic conference in Athens. (Reuters) Unemployment rises Unemployment in Bulgaria grew last month, with the jobless rate rising to 6.27 percent in December from 5.85 percent in November, the national employment agency said yesterday. The rate was still lower than the 6.91 percent recorded in December 2007. Taking 2008 as a whole, unemployment stood at an annual average of 6.31 percent last year, down from 7.75 percent in 2007, and the lowest annual average since 1990, the agency said in a statement. (AFP)